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The asymmetric fleet. In Russia for many years discussed the possibility of building a combat-ready aircraft carriers
Material posted: Publication date: 25-02-2020
Immediately after the great Patriotic war the Soviet leadership had seriously planned to build a large fleet, comparable in its potential with the American and English. But quite quickly it became clear that this plan will not be implemented for lack of financial resources and production capacity.

Of course, financial resources could be channelled into the construction of the Navy's arbitrary decision, but then the country had other priorities – post-war reconstruction, the creation of nuclear weapons, the development of ground forces, the air force and air defense. Therefore, the Navy is "big" made "asymmetric", relying on submarines and aircraft. But under Khrushchev the Soviet Union began a "rocket fetishism", and large surface ships, seemed quite irrelevant.

Of course, large surface ships built in the Soviet Union, but in limited quantities and on doubtful concepts. So, very much attention was paid to anti-SUBMARINE warfare(A) a potential enemy, so in the Soviet Navy there was a special classes of ships, which nowhere in the world was not – large and small anti-submarine ships (BOD and IPC) and even anti-submarine cruisers. However, due to the imperfections of sonar equipment and antisubmarine weapons all the objectives of the PLO have not been able to solve, the only relatively effective anti-submarine means of the Soviet Navy were our own PL. From 1962 to 1973, he was commissioned 20 BOD PR. 61. They still had praise for advanced engines (gas turbine), but because ships are not built for engines and weapons, and with it "61-x" was very bad.

Oddly enough, one of these ships ("Smetliviy", which was commissioned in 1966) lived in the black sea fleet until the end of 2019. However, he underwent a radical modernization in St. 01090. "Anti-submarine cruisers" was considered the first Soviet aircraft-carrying ships of the PR. 1123 ("Moscow" and "Leningrad", carrying only helicopters, the goals of the PLO decided they purely arbitrary).

In 1970-1980-ies the commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy Admiral Sergei Gorshkov still tried to create a balanced ocean-going fleet. It was built a significant number of large surface ships, and their construction ahead of the construction necessary, the ships of the coastal infrastructure. In particular, this affected new anti-submarine cruiser of the Ave 1143 (there were 4 built, two for SF and PF). To the Pacific fleet to two ships of this project ("Minsk" and "Novorossiysk") was never built piers, the whole life they spent on the RAID and ahead of schedule have developed a life. These ships became the first domestic "almost carriers" (unlike classic aircraft carriers, they carried the entire range of missiles, including long-range ASM P-500 "Bazalt"), but their carrier-based fighter with vertical takeoff Yak-38 was extremely unfortunate, the task of ASW ships, again, could not solve. In the end, the head "Kiev" and "Minsk" are now entertainment rides in China, "Novorossiysk" was sold for the metal in Korea. "Admiral Gorshkov" (formerly "Baku") was a radical overhaul with the dismantling of RCC, has become more or less normal aircraft carrier and sold to India under the name of Vikramaditya (the Indian Navy on it deck based MiG-29K horizontal take-off and landing).

The heirs of these vehicles was to be aircraft carriers St. 11435-11437 that have already been designed for carrier-based aircraft with a conventional horizontal takeoff and landing. However, the first two of them had a catapult, instead they used a bow ramp, which limited the ability of carrier-based aircraft. In addition, the ships were set SCRC "Granit" (range – 700 km), which increased the strike capabilities of the ship, but limited the size of the wing and the possibility of its use. Before disintegration of the USSR was able to build only one ship (PR. 11435), which is now called "Admiral Kuznetsov" is the only current Russian aircraft carrier (part of SF, is now in repair). Same with him "the Vikings" (St. 11436) in an unfinished state went to Ukraine (the ships were built in Nikolayev), was sold to China and was introduced in the PLA Navy under the name "Liaoning", becoming the first Chinese aircraft carrier. The third ship, "Ulyanovsk" (PR. 11437), was supposed to be atomic and to have the catapult, but due to the collapse of the USSR was not built.

In the 1970-ies began the construction of missile cruiser PR. 1164. They were not listed as "anti", and was intended to combat U.S. aircraft carriers. The ships carried 16 anti-ship missiles "Basalt" (the same as on the PR. 1143), and 64 missiles AAMS "Fort" (naval version of s-300P). It was assumed the construction of ten such cruisers, however, begun operation only Slava (now Moskva, the black sea fleet, now in repair), "Marshal Ustinov" (in SF) and "red Ukraine" (now "Varyag", for the tofu). In the course of modernization (in Russia), these three ships were rearmed with the more perfect SCRC P-1000 "Volcano". Fourth, the ship went to Ukraine (PR. 1164 cruiser also built in Nikolayev), he's almost completed called "Ukraine" but Ukraine's Navy is not able to operate and maintain, and Russia to the conflict in 2014 were ready to take the gift that Kiev, of course, was unacceptable. In the end, "Ukraine" doomed to be cut into the metal, while rotting from the wall of the plant in Nikolaev, which is rotting himself.

In the 1980s, began to build nuclear missile cruiser PR. 1144 in Leningrad/St. Petersburg. They also built four, set of weapons and radio-electronic means, they differed from each other. The main guns of cruisers were 20 anti-ship missiles "Granit" missiles and "Fort" with 96 missiles. Formally, all these missiles were in a DIP, but unlike American DIP Мк41 Soviet DIP was not universal, each designed for a specific missile type. In addition, SAM was placed in a revolving PU 8 missiles in each, so at the same time "1144-x" was ready to start, not 96, but only 12 missiles (and the "1164-x" – not 64, and 8). The main problem of all Russian cruisers were too narrow protivoavianosnymi specialization with the huge size and cost. The latter is particularly concerned the cruisers St. 1144. Currently, the lead ship of this type ("Kirov", and "Admiral Ushakov") and the second ("Admiral Lazarev") awaiting disposal. The third ("Admiral Nakhimov") in Severodvinsk undergoing radical modernization. In particular, instead of 20 "Granites" he will carry 80 "Caliber", "Onyx" and "Zircon", and the s-300F, apparently, will be replaced by naval version of s-400. In the end, the cruiser will not protivoavianosnymi and truly versatile vehicle. Through similar upgrades probably will be the fourth cruiser PR. 1144, "Peter the Great". He was commissioned in Russia in 1998, now part of SF.

Two of the largest ship of the Russian Navy "Admiral Kuznetsov" and "Peter the Great" before repair "Kuznetsov" was almost inseparable couple, the majority of military service beyond the territorial waters of the Russian Federation they went together. In particular, at the end of 2016, they went together to the Mediterranean sea, where carrier-based aircraft "Kuznetsov" was the first in Russian history, was involved in a real fight against Islamic radicals in Syria. Due to the limited number of su-33 and MiG-29K on Board the "Kuznetsov" and due to the fact that they are first and foremost fighters, not bombers, the result of their actions was very limited. Moreover, because of the mistakes of deck commands, and faulty landing equipment was lost two perfectly good airplane (one su-33 and MiG-29K), and the rest flew mainly from bases Hamim, not from the deck "Kuznetsova". This campaign was to demonstrate the existence of a carrier vehicle, but showed, in fact, the lack of it.

If the current joint military activities "Kuznetsov" and "Peter the Great" largely forced, in Soviet destroyers PR. 956 and PR. 1155 BOD in the 1980-ies the concept of joint activities was used quite deliberately.

Destroyers PR. 956 (like "Modern") received a powerful shock weapons – 8 supersonic anti-ship missiles "Mosquito" and two twin 130-mm gun mount AK-130. In a dueling situation "ship vs ship" equal in the world for them was not there, they are within a few minutes, guaranteed to turn into scrap metal even an aircraft carrier and sent to the bottom of any ship. But in modern naval warfare like a duel almost impossible. PVO "956-x" was quite weak, PLO is almost zero. Furthermore, it turned out to be unreliable boiler and turbine power plant, was insufficient cruising range. In the end of the 17 ships of this type in the ranks of the Russian Navy now has only two – "Admiral Ushakov" (ex - "Fearless") in SF and "Fast" in PAC. Another, "Persistent", is on BF in repair, he has a chance to come back.


"Admiral Kuznetsov" is the only
the current Russian aircraft carrier.
Photo from

Partners "956-x" in the Soviet concept became a BOD PR. 1155 (such as "Swashbuckling"). They compared with the destroyers was the more powerful melee defense on the basis of SAM "Dagger" (the marine version of the "tor") and a much more powerful PLO on the basis of universal ASM/plourac'h 85РУ "Trumpet". The ships complement each other, hence "pairing". In practice, these ships were simply much more reliable than "956-e" so built 12 "1155-x" still alive 8, 4 for SF and PF. Five of them are now in the ranks ("Severomorsk" and "Vice-Admiral Kulakov" in the Northern fleet, "Admiral Tributs", "Admiral Panteleev" and "Admiral Vinogradov" for TOF), three – repair ("Admiral Levchenko" and "Admiral Kharlamov" in SF, "Marshal Shaposhnikov" on PF). In this case about the fate of "Kharlamov" there is no clarity if it will go for recycling and may be upgraded with re - "Onyx" and "Caliber".


In the mid 1980s on the first results of operation of destroyers and BOD had the idea to mix these two types in one, taking the best from both projects – "Mosquitoes" and AK-130 from PR. 956, "Daggers", the Ka-27 and the engines from St. 1155. As a result, the St. 11551, which because of the collapse of the USSR was in a single instance: "Admiral Chabanenko" was put into operation in 1999, now he is in SF for repairs.

At the moment in the ranks of the Russian Navy has a total of 10 major surface ships – three cruisers (including one nuclear), five BOD and two destroyers. Eight more ships: aircraft carrier, two cruisers (including one nuclear), destroyer, four BOD are under renovation and/or modernization, the fate of one BOD obvious. This is not enough, even if all these ships to gather in one place, which is impossible theoretically. Dispersion of the fleets, between which exchange of ships in case of war is excluded, makes the Russian ocean-going fleet symbolic. Especially given the fact that only four ships ("Peter the Great", "Admiral Chabanenko", "Admiral Ushakov" and "Persistent") was commissioned in 1990-e years, others – in Soviet times. In the twenty-first century the Navy of the Russian Federation no major surface ship is not received, and the existing outdated both morally and physically, their number will only decrease. In the last 5-6 years they are intensively exploited, quickly producing the remaining resource.

In Russia for many years, discussed the possibility of building a normal aircraft carriers. There is a project of the destroyers ' Leader, in its potential, these ships should surpass us "Arleigh Burke". To understand how we need aircraft carriers and destroyers, it makes sense to look at the main Maritime power in the USA.

During the Second world war the Americans to end the war toyed with the battleships, although they themselves had demonstrated that naval battles need aircraft carriers, not battleships. Now the Americans have created ships (cruisers and destroyers) with the Ohr Мк41 system "aegis", but continued to be worn from aircraft carriers.

The newest nuclear aircraft carrier type "Gerald Ford" is approximately 12.7 billion dollars. The destroyer "Arleigh Burke" latest modifications – approximately 1.8 billion dollars, instead of one carrier to buy seven destroyers. The number of crew of "Ford" – about 2,5 thousand people (and yet the same staff wing, but it won't count), "Arleigh Burke" – up to 380 people, instead of one of the crew of the aircraft carrier can be formed again up to seven crews of the destroyers. In attack version the destroyer carries, as a rule, 60 slcm BGM-109 "Tomahawk" (maximum number is 96, but this is possible only if the vehicle does not need air defense), each of which costs about $ 1 million. Respectively 7 "Arleigh Burke" that you can buy instead of one "Ford", raise 420 "Tomahawk" for 420 million dollars. In the case of combat use of these missiles will certainly be spent, it is quite safe for the carrier due to long-range "Tomahawk". Of course, there is no possibility of the death of the pilots, as in the "Tomahawk" they are not.

Standard wing of an aircraft carrier is 48 combat aircraft. There are still almost as many support aircraft and helicopters, but they will not be considered for the sake of simplicity of the task. F/A-18E/F "Super hornet" is approximately 70.5 million us dollars, all the wing – almost $ 3.4 billion.! For this money you can buy almost 3.4 thousand "Tomahawks". If the wing consists of the newest F-35C, its price increases to 4.8 billion, equivalent to 4.8 thousand "Tomahawks" (ammunition 50-80 "Arleigh Burke"), and, interestingly, the combat load the F-35C is smaller than the F/A-18E/F. in the "Tomahawk" has already laid the fuel that will carry it to the target, the plane burns during the flight of a huge number of very expensive jet fuel, whose price should be added to its price.

Tomahawk hits the target by itself, carrier-based aircraft for this need missiles and/or ASD. They may be different, but their range is always much less than the "Tomahawk", and the price is quite comparable (from 100 to 800 thousand dollars. depending on the specific missiles (UAB) and its modifications). Price payload of one "Super Hornet" in the same departure can be from 600 thousand to $ 3 million. However, in contrast to the "Tomahawk" theoretically it can hit multiple targets, besides aircraft, in contrast to rockets – reusable. However, to defeat those conditional 420 goals that can hit 7 "Arleigh Burke", you will need from 70 to 105 sorties "Super Hornet" with full combat load (4-6 missiles/ASD) that based on the burnt fuel will be definitely be worth more than 420 million dollars. Formally, of course, to destroy any barn with three guerrillas inside more profitable with the help of 100-thousand "Maverick", not millions "Tomahawk", but only formally: it is rather strange to build a 13 billion dollar aircraft carriers with 70-million aircraft on Board for the destruction of the sheds.

All these arguments make sense, provided that the rival does not have any significant air defense. The loss of even one 70-million F/A-18E/F, not to mention the 100-million F-35C makes all of these calculations are meaningless, and if the aircraft lost a few... That is, the stronger the potential enemy, the less sense the carriers and the carriers of the "Tomahawk". Then again, it is impossible not to ask the same question: why do I need crazy expensive aircraft carriers deliberately against helpless opponents?

Carrier-based aircraft it seems to be more effective in naval air defense missile system providing air defense. Planes can take more missiles "air-air" than the destroyer have missiles, the range of the aircraft exceeds the range of SAM. But, on the other hand, due to the large range of "Tomahawk" the destroyer may not enter the zone of action of enemy aircraft. There is another important point. Destroyer is perfectly capable of defending himself with the help of artillery and anti-aircraft missiles, so it can act alone. The carrier is not able to protect himself, he is forced to carry for a "Suite" of several SUBMARINES, cruisers and destroyers, thereby largely their "deadening", depriving of strategic and tactical flexibility. Moreover, carrier-based aircraft in contrast to the "Tomahawk" is highly dependent on weather conditions.

Why do Americans continue to build aircraft carriers? Just because they are people too. First, they continue to prepare for past wars: the inertia of thinking – something extremely strong. Secondly, such a thing as "cut the dough", is not exclusively a Russian monopoly. Just in the United States the object of cutting much more than we do, and the chance to sit down for corruption is also higher than ours. But "cut" is still desirable, so to do this will be required.

But we still should try to learn from others ' mistakes, not just repeat them. The carriers we have nowhere to build – there are no eligible shipyards; there is no one – there are not enough qualified personnel; considering how much the carrier requires different associated equipment – not (the scale of the problem can be estimated in hundreds of trillions of rubles), and there is no need. The more that in their number we will not be able to catch up with not only the US but also China. Last December's fire on the "Kuznetsov" is a great excuse to get rid of this weird ship, which and so has already served 28 years. It can be simply scrapped. Or give India, let it be at his own expense to drag it to itself and cut up for scrap, or upgrades on their yards. We don't need this ship, it is pointless to devour a lot of money from the military budget. As our carrier, as well as American, to defend himself can't, then first you need to build cruisers, destroyers and frigates to protect it, what with the financial and operational points of view makes the task completely unrealistic and impossible even in the distant future. The construction of aircraft carriers without escort ships would be no longer a gamble, but a criminal offense to forget in any case impossible.

However, in technical terms, there is an alternative solution to the carrier problem.

Since 1960-ies in connection with the sharp growth in world trade also grew rapidly, the volume of Maritime freight transport. To speed up the process of loading and unloading was invented a standard shipping container with dimensions of 2.4 x 2.4 x 6.1 or 12.2 m. Steel to build special freight vessels-container ships, for which the containers were formed huge piles in the holds and on deck. In this connection, the deck had to do perfectly smooth, without shafts, valves, vent pipes, antennas.

In the early 1980s at the marine headquarters, NATO has developed the project "Arapaho", providing for placement on container ships aircraft systems and means of maintenance. Created for this module, with the dimensions of the most standard shipping containers. They could equip the workshops, administrative and residential buildings, and warehouses, it could be aircraft hangars. System that includes 60-70 containers weighing up to 900 tons, was loaded on a ship for 4-5 hours and at sea, mounted in 14 hours. On the flat deck of a container ship could also mount the metal runway, which was supposed to fly helicopters and maybe VTOL "Harrier".

In the Falklands war system "Arapaho" was used by the British. They were sent to fight for 11 thousand km from his native land almost all of their Navy, which had in the South Atlantic, no land base and their rear were found on ships. Several container ships were converted to air. One of them, the Atlantic conveyor with a displacement of 15 thousand tons, became the largest ship sunk in combat since the Second world war. May 25, 1982, he was sent to the bottom by means of two RCC "Exocet", launched from fighter-bombers of the Argentine air force "Super Etandar". With him sank 10 helicopters, and a lot of ammunition and equipment. The loss of the container ship battle was for the British a very painful but they still won. And even developed the experience of using container ships as warships. The container ship "Contender Bezant" name to the Falklands nine "Chinook" and four "Harrier", in the spring of 1984 and was purchased by the British Navy and renamed training ship aircraft carrier "Argus". He is still in service and still carries only helicopters.

Today, the largest container ships have a displacement of more than 200 thousand tons, length 400 m, width 61 m and have a crew of less than 50 people. American nuclear aircraft carriers have a displacement of about 100 thousand tons, length 332 m, width 76,8 m and 5 thousand people on Board. And if the price of the carrier exceeds $ 10 billion., even the largest container ship costs about 100 million, as the frigate with a displacement of 3-4 tonnes, And this means that the container can be done fighting ships of multiple classes. First, it can be a carrier for normal combat aircraft with a horizontal takeoff and landing. For this size of ships lacking in abundance. Second, from a container ship would make a very good carrier combat and reconnaissance drones. However, this ship will also become a kind of carrier. Thirdly, the container can be turned into a ship-Arsenal, setting him on a UVP for a few hundred (if not thousands) of missiles of different class (primarily – winged and anti-aircraft). Fourthly, a container ship can be set very large and powerful hydroacoustic station. We have this huge problem: our GUS is too big, so they can be put only on very large ships. A container ship really is, but it could be several dozen anti-submarine helicopters.

Nothing prevents Russia to purchase abroad several buildings of large container ships. Even 20 of these buildings will cost less than one full carrier, and with the cost of even one real aircraft carrier connections the price of the container diverge by orders of magnitude. And then on their own can be inserted into the body combat the filling. This option allows you to largely solve the problems of personnel, Finance and production capacity. However, still there is no answer to the question "why do we need it?"

If you realize the uselessness of aircraft carriers, the destroyers will be easier. They can build in a small amount. Or not to build at all, focusing on frigates ("critical", "HBO", 12.07.19). If the destroyer is five times stronger and five times more expensive than a frigate, it is better to build five frigates than a battleship. Because the enemy is easier to sink one destroyer, five frigates, one destroyer in each particular moment of time may be present only in one place, and five frigates, up to five places. And if the destroyer is in repair, then once its full potential is excluded from the market, and all five frigates at a time for a repair just will not stand. Of large ships, perhaps we'll have left is "Nakhimov" and "Peter".

And the most important thing for us at sea – is, of course, submarines ("In defence of sea borders of Russia there are problems", "HBO", 05.10.18). Their construction should be an absolute priority, everything else can wait.

Alexander Khramchikhin


Tags: Russia , USA

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